I sit in the waiting room nervously, avoiding eye contact with the others, drinking cola. Then my counsellor introduces himself. He is in his fifties with grey hair, in good physical shape. He is calming. In his office we go through the preliminaries and I talk about the issues that are bothering me. I joke around a little as if to say Some bad things have happened to me but I'm ok.

My counsellor doesn't have to be Sigmund Freud to see through this. He simply says You're laughing, but this must be very difficult for you. I don't have time to react intellectually to this. All the hidden emotions appear unbidden as a physical pressure in my chest. I cry a little. I feel the relief of finally being able to admit how I feel to someone neutral, someone who I won't burden, someone who I won't offend. I no longer have to be strong.

I tried counselling because of the good experience of a friend. She said The first time everyone cries. I remember nodding supportively, thinking Not me, baby!